July 24, 2024

Bernie Ecclestone has questioned what Max Verstappen stands to gain if he is to leave Red Bull before the end of his contract.

Max Verstappen is under contract with Red Bull until the conclusion of 2028, but rumours have recently abounded that the Dutch driver could be eying up a team switch in the near future.

Bernie Ecclestone: Max Verstappen too intelligent to leave
Verstappen has been linked with the vacant Mercedes seat opened up by Lewis Hamilton’s departure for Ferrari, while Red Bull’s own future competitiveness isn’t guaranteed.

With the 2026 regulations rapidly hoving into view, completely up-ending the current chassis and engine regulations, Red Bull will lose their Honda supply deal and, instead, become a manufacturer in its own right.

While Christian Horner has said the Red Bull Powertrains project is currently hitting all its targets, the possibility remains that – when going up against seasoned power unit manufacturers like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Honda – RBPT might not nail the new regulations first time.

With Mercedes openly courting Verstappen, a manufacturer and team that nailed the last revolution of the power unit regulations, Red Bull also losing chief technical officer Adrian Newey by mid-2025 will also be a major concern for Max Verstappen.
But former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he thinks Verstappen is “too intelligent” to leave Red Bull, given how he has the entire Milton Keynes team wrapped solely around his push for title glories.

“He’s too intelligent to do that,” Ecclestone told RacingNews.

“What would he gain? To go where?”

Having enjoyed Red Bull’s attentions being focused on him over the past 10 years since entering F1 with Toro Rosso, Ecclestone said he doubts Verstappen will be treated in a similar way at any other team.

“It’d be silly to move,” Ecclestone said.

“There’s nowhere he could go where I think he would get exactly the same service as you get at Red Bull.”

Bernie Ecclestone: Maybe he’d be tempted to prove ‘It’s me, not the car’
With Verstappen having won all his titles at the wheel of an Adrian Newey-penned Red Bull, the chance to move across to a Mercedes team that is trying to return to the top after failing to nail the current ground-effect regulations could offer the Dutch driver to cement his legacy by winning titles with a different team and designer combination.

Ecclestone, then, played devil’s advocate and, while he believes Red Bull is still the place for Verstappen to be, if the Milton Keynes-based squad aren’t as ready for 2026 as Verstappen is hoping, perhaps Mercedes could prove too tempting to turn down.
“Well, the only thing is, you can do that when it suits you, rather than being pushed into it because you would think ‘Why should Mercedes get that big advantage?’” Ecclestone said.

“They would spend the money. Red Bull spends the money. He knows about Red Bull, he knows exactly what they do and what they don’t do.

“Would he go to think he could prove it’s not what people say at the moment, maybe it’s not him it’s the car that’s fantastic.

“So maybe he would like to go somewhere else to prove it’s me, not the car. It’s another side of things. But where would he go? I suppose, in the end, Mercedes is the obvious choice.”

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